For those times when you just want to quit!

Have you ever noticed that accomplished people seem to have an uncanny ability to adapt and adjust in just the right places at just the right time? They seem to fluidly keep on keeping on without losing a step.

Since I quite often have to actively convince myself to keep going on some of my goals, the apparent ease of others intrigued me. The reality is that no matter how easy it may look for others, it is in fact a universal challenge. The key is in how we face those times we simply want to quit.

What I’ve discovered is that there are two important and vastly different lenses when looking at these situations.

The first lens is that sometimes it’s okay to give ourselves permission to quit. Surprised? It really is okay sometimes to acknowledge we need to make another choice. It isn’t a choice if we can’t change our minds. And sometimes changing our mind is more than just our prerogative, it is imperative. Personal development expert Brian Tracy defines this as zero-based thinking. We ask ourselves: “Knowing what I know now, would I still…?” Then take the appropriate action if the answer is no. We have to allow for change.

The second lens is about finding our own motivation to keep going and not requiring ourselves to take on an approach that doesn’t work for us. Motivation and methods that work are unique for each of us and they also change for us as we move through our lives. And even when you have that perfect motivation, it doesn’t mean that “keeping on” is always easy. Sometimes it is just hard. But we can do it!

Here are five things to consider when you need to regain your confidence and perseverance power to stay engaged and reach your next goal or level of life mastery:

#1: Keep your eye on the finish line

What is waiting for you at the end? What is that promise? When we stay focused on the end goal, it gives it a magnetic quality that will help pull us through tough times and circumstances. Remember though that it isn’t just the goal — it’s what reaching that goal makes possible. Capture the feeling and lock onto that.

#2: Fuel (feed) your fire

Mother Teresa taught: “To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.”

How are you keeping your commitment vital and alive? What are you feeding to your internal energy furnace? Are you connected with others that have already reached the place you are striving to get to? Are you surrounding yourself with support and positive connections?

#3: Focus on consistent steps — not leaps & bounds

What we do consistently has a much higher impact on our results than what we do occasionally. The stream must be constantly moving to wear down the rock. When you are consistently working on something, you will attract even more opportunities. Use progressive milestones to help with this. No one goes from the white belt level to black without attaining each color in between. And each level achieved is a celebration.

#4: Make everything serve the goal

This is not just fortune cookie wisdom. Determined focus is what delivers destiny. That means you must bind together all your resources and deploy them as a single force of power. This is the secret revealed by Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich. Get everything working in harmony with the same result and you will get there.

#5: Don’t be afraid of setbacks

What scares you? For most of us, it is failure. To move past the fear, we just need to redefine failure. Failure is rarely a valid judgment. Your plan is going to change. That is not failure. That is intelligence at work. Define attempt as research. It is welcome progress. Embrace that thinking and you will re-channel the fear and stay on track.

Be strategic about choosing and staying your course. And always, live today like you want tomorrow to be. Choices get really clear when we start there.

Resilience: Asking the other question….

The Other Question

As I am working on Adjusted Sails: Are You Ready For What’s Next?, my focus has shifted to my own next as I consider strategies, plans and priorities.

Perhaps you find yourself here as well.

A productive practice to consider is integrating into our thought processes what I call the other question. I’m always intrigued with inverse statements and questions. There is always another one there.

What we are considering is a fundamental practice in order to experience the full range of possibility thinking. We must be able to look at every side of our choices.

In my work as a strategist over the years, this has proven to be what has made the difference between goals and objectives that are reached with greater ease and those that create struggles or even get lost along the way.

There is always another question to consider. The other question is also what quite often delivers us the greater return.

Questions that drive insight are the ones that move us forward.

Here are three to consider that will help you develop a possibilitarian point of view that leads to creative resilience:

What is the real change I want to achieve?

Know your true objective. Keep asking until you find it. There are several schools of thought on this in terms of how many layers of questions to go through. For each answer, you ask why that is important. My experience has taught me that somewhere between questions five and seven we get to the true answer.

I want to achieve X.  Why? Because XX.

Why do you want XX? Because XXX.

Why do you want XXX? Because XXXX.

Why do you want XXXX?

Because V!

You cannot stay on track if you don’t know where you really want to go. What we want to get to is the core value being served by taking on the work. I just recently went through this practice again myself about my personal values around health. It’s the most powerful exercise we can do to get to our own truth for what we want to achieve. Of note is that sometimes this exercise helps us identify what we can stop trying to accomplish because our underlying reason isn’t of any real value. But in most cases, we get to what will be our true motivation.

The more you practice this, the faster you will get to your core value. When we keep our core value at the forefront, resilience is a natural result because we are not looking at a circumstance without context. We are examining everything against how it can serve what matters to us in our life and work the most.

What options am I avoiding?

This is crucial because quite often what we refuse to consider is our best choice. We all have non-negotiable positions. That’s not what this is about. This is about what we might be afraid to try or think isn’t a possibility for us. It’s about removing limitations, not compromising boundaries.  When we are practicing a resilient lifestyle, how we perceive things will change and what we never considered before can move front and center.

It’s also about tackling resistance head-on.

What is important is that we exhaust every possibility without limiting ourselves to probabilities or what we think we want to do.

What am I missing?

Where are the blind spots? What aren’t we considering that needs to be addressed? What are the risks? If you know them, you can mitigate them from the start or at a minimum, have a plan in place to address them should they happen.  If you do not know the risks, you have not fully defined what you want.  If this is a challenging area for you, start with your assumptions. Your risks will be in your assumptions. What are you assuming to be true? What if it is not? What are you assuming is not true? What if it is?

One of the many gifts I received from my iPEC family where I studied for my certification as an Executive Life Coach was a very special stone. I’ve had it for a number of years and it stays with me as a kind of talisman when I’m thinking through something challenging.

On one side, the word problem has been engraved, covering the entire surface. On the other side is the word solution. The solution resides within the problem itself. We have to examine it from all sides to find it but it is there. The other question is what will take us to the other side.

Resiliency: What does it really take?

We all have aspirations for something.

Even if we haven’t translated it yet into a specific goal, there’s something we want more of, less of or different.

It is the ultimate dichotomy I think of our humanness: We resist change and yet change is what we crave.

The underlying conflict in this seems to be that we want the change we want and nothing else.

We do not want to have to put change to work; we only want change that works for us. And we believe we are the best judge of what that might be.

Author and leadership expert Simon Sinek recently shared these thoughts on change that I found insightful:

“People don’t fear change.

They fear sudden change.

People fear revolutions.

People don’t fear evolutions.”

Sometimes though, evolution may not be recognized. Because the best change quite often masquerades as something else, something perhaps we don’t recognize for its true potential.

That’s the essence of resilience. Being able to recognize opportunity in whatever comes our way. Once we’ve made the decision for what we want, then everything gets put to work to accomplish that. It’s one of the principal lessons I learned from Napoleon Hill’s work, Think and Grow Rich. The decision begins everything. Without a decision, there is no touchstone.

But what does it really take to go from decision to done? What does resilience need in order to work? From studying those that are repeatedly successful it would appear that there are three things that happen with resilience.

First is that everything becomes a resource and gets put to work. You see things differently. You see them through the lens of possibility. You become resourceful instead of just waiting on resources.

Second is a steadfast sense of resolve. Jim Rohn tells the story of a young girl that when asked to define resolve explained that it was a promise you make to yourself. When things go awry, as we know they will, it is our resolve that keeps us on track and moving forward.

The third element is not just what we get in the end, it’s what we continuously produce and that is results. Results are the most effective way to light our path. They show us which direction is working. They guide us along the way. That is why we have to measure from the first step, so we can harness the power of those results, adjusting our sails as we go.

What it really takes is not just one thing, in fact it’s really not a thing at all. When you think about it, what it takes is us. We make the decision, we become resourceful, we resolve to persevere and we follow the best results until we get there.

What is it you want? Decide. Start there. Let it begin.

Live (decide) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (decide) well.

 

 

 

Resiliency: Creating perspective with gratitude

Nothing challenges our beliefs like pain.

Whether physical, mental or emotional, when pain strikes, all bets are off when it comes to what we might have expected in our responses.

That is why it’s crucial for us to have a tool to create context and perspective for those moments.

That tool is gratitude.

You cannot be stressed and genuinely grateful at the same time. You cannot be angry and grateful at the same time. They are counter-intuitive emotions.

It can be hard to find gratitude when your world seems to be crumbling. And it’s maddening when others tell you about the silver lining in your cloud; or that there’s a purpose to everything. We know that of course. But at that moment, that’s not what we need to hear. What we feel in that moment is that nothing matters except the moment and its pain.

The most helpful thing we can do is to contain the moment and gain some perspective, even distance from the pain.

The fastest path to that wisdom is gratitude. This is not about being grateful for the pain. In fact, sometimes it’s about anything but the pain. Sometimes we need to rest the eyes of our soul for a moment. We need a life lens that takes away the harsh painful glare. Simple gratitude can do that for us.

However, I know from personal experience that gratitude will not always come naturally. It too is a skill that must be honed and developed. It is also one of the most vital prerequisites for resilience.

If we are not grateful we will not see the point in creating good. In the end, that’s what gratitude is really about – finding the good.

It may not be about everything in the moment, but it can be about something.

I remember during some dark days when it took all of my strength just to get through the day that the corner of light was always there because of gratitude. It was my diversion from pain to peace. Even if just for a moment, it immersed me in something outside of the pain.

Taking time to seek the good and be grateful begins to balance the scales.

It was during these days that I began a life practice that still sustains me now and that is my gratitude journal. Each day I express gratitude. A journal is a natural expression for me as a writer. It can take many forms but once we develop this life practice the skill becomes a part of us and something very special begins to happen.

We begin to seek the good in everything. We search for those reminders and we find them. After all, whatever it is we seek, that is what we find.

This is what begins to establish a life that is centered around gratitude as a core value. It takes us beyond the moment and into a deeper and richer experience of life. When someone asks how I am able to see possibilities where others may not, it usually comes back to this. When we begin to seek the good, we begin to find it. Not only in those days and times as an antidote to pain, but everyday and how we see our world overall.

Our thoughts are like magnets. When they are about what is good, that will be what we attract. Even when on the surface, we may not see it. The good is there. And we will find it. That’s the power of gratitude. It changes our perspective about pain but even more, it changes our perspective about life.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.

 

How much life are you leaving on the table?

There is a phrase used sometimes when talking about negotiations that, when you stop and think about it, has a broader application. It speaks to the difference between what someone actually pays and how much they were willing to pay. It’s referred to as the seller perhaps leaving “money on the table” by underpricing or giving in to negotiation pressure. It comes down to how much was possible from the transaction vs. how much was realized.

Let’s think about this beyond just financial negotiations and look at how we negotiate with ourselves about our lives and work. Over the past few months I have found myself asking: How much life am I leaving on the table? Is there a difference between how much life is possible vs. how much I am settling for?

In a word – Yes.

What is behind the idea of settling? It’s not all bad, is it? Sometimes we go along to get along. I’ve done it. I hope I’ve matured enough to know to choose my battles. But this goes deeper. It speaks to the dangers of too much compromise and not enough fight, particularly with (and for) ourselves!

As I thought about this, the first thing that came to mind was learning how to recognize when it is happening.  After all, how would we ever know?

Wisdom from Thomas Edison prompted this personal inquiry for me with this statement: “When you think you have exhausted all of the possibilities remember this: You haven’t!”

I thought about all the factors that might create a limited perspective of what was possible. There were five that kept coming up over and over. Here they are:

  1. Limiting Beliefs
  2. Limiting Choices
  3. Limiting Circle
  4. Limiting Practices
  5. Limiting Purpose

There is no question that when we limit what we believe about ourselves and our possibilities we are leaving life on the table. After all, if we don’t think it’s possible, we won’t even try.

And, the idea of only an “either / or” in choice has always befuddled me. I lean toward both or more instead of just allowing for one or the other. Since when did choices become mutually exclusive? One way of thinking about this is:  Why settle for A or H – why not choose both and create AHA! True creativity rejects choices that are limited. Just imagine if we had settled for red and blue and never discovered purple!

There is a belief often taught in personal development circles that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.  While there are nuances to that – there is a genesis of something very true here. Our sphere of influence is so important. How can you expect to stay inspired and encouraged if no one you are in the trenches with shares your vision or ideals?

The idea of limiting practices is typically my nemesis. Wanting to attain something is good and it’s a start but wanting something isn’t what gets it done. Our daily practices make that happen. We think of this for our health without question. But it’s true in your work as well. What must happen every day or every week to move your needle forward? When we limit what we are willing to do daily, we leave life on the table. As I heard recently, when we aren’t achieving what we want, it’s rarely a lack of knowledge or know-how. We know what to do. We just don’t seem to know how to get ourselves to consistently do it! Sound familiar?

Candidly, the last one on the list came first or second when I first started thinking about this, but as new ones came up, it kept getting pushed down. I’m giving that some thought but for now consider that if you don’t have an unfettered purpose you are leaving so much on the table. It speaks to belief but goes beyond it. This is where we think about 10X or 100X or possibly 1000X factors for what we believe we can accomplish. Not for ourselves, but as an agent of change in the world. I may have to re-think where this one goes in its ranking on the list.

What do you want to be true 90 days from now in your life or work? At the end of 2020? By the end of this decade?

Consider these factors for yourself. Make sure you aren’t leaving any life on the table.

Live today like you WANT tomorrow to be.  Live WELL!